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The Commoner
The Commoner
Author: John Burnham Schwartz
It is 1959 when Haruko, a young woman of good family, marries the Crown Prince of Japan, the heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne. She is the first non-aristocratic woman to enter the longest-running, almost hermetically sealed, and mysterious monarchy in the world. Met with cruelty and suspicion by the Empress and her minions, Haruko is controlled ...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9781400096053
ISBN-10: 1400096057
Publication Date: 1/6/2009
Pages: 368
Rating:
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 59

3.6 stars, based on 59 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed The Commoner on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
sixty pages in, and i'm bored out of my mind. i could take another story about a repressed asian woman, just not one that moves as slow as this one. i am putting it down, with some regret, but life's too short!
reviewed The Commoner on + 27 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
This book was really a very well-written, beautiful story from beginning to end. There was a point at which I caught myself frustrated with Haruko for not saying this or not saying that. Yet in the context of her culture and the times, it's entirely understandable. The author created very rich characters in very few words. We know a lot about them and yet so little really.
There was a time in the story when it did a time "jump." While I wonder what happened during those years,and a part of me would have liked more of that, I do think it may have gotten tedious had it been there. So I'm a bit mixed on whether I liked the flow of the book which is the only thing that prevents this from being a 5 for me.
This is not a book that will "tug" on yur emotions but it may settle or unsettle you softly. I can't help but wonder how a female author may have written this. Would it have had a different voice? A different emphasis? I don't know. The author does a beautiful presentation of the female voices in the story without judgment. All of the characters (save perhaps 1) are presented without judgment though and the outcome is really just a very beautiful story. I think by wanting more, I probably got just enough.
reviewed The Commoner on
Helpful Score: 2
Overall the book left me a bit unsatisfied. It was a slow read to start; it took until Chapter 8 to get moving. Once it got going it was very interesting and a page turner in the middle. LOTS of detail, then suddenly the story skips forward 3 DECADES after Haruko "lost her voice". The story is very sad. It reminded me of Princess Diana and the royal trap that she, also a commoner, fell into for love. It made me wonder if perhaps the court was wrong to break with tradition and allow the Crown Prince to marry a commoner. As Haruko's father put it so bluntly to Dr. Watnabe there was too big of a gulf, an ocean, between Haruko and Shige for the union to work. Haruko herself became one of her imperial tormentors by convincing Keiko to marry her son. After decades in the Imperial Palace she could not have been so naive to think she could protect Keiko. The fact that all female princesses are removed from the Imperial Register upon their marriage is telling. The ending was a bit too convenient and unresolved. I gave it 3 stars.
reviewed The Commoner on + 61 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Sorry, I found the writing style to be too simplistic.
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